Boys swimming preview capsules
December 3, 2012 10:56PM
Valparaiso's Muyenda Burnett warms up during a break in diving competition at Highland, Ind. Friday December 30, 2011. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 5, 2013 6:24AM
Chesterton’s sophomore class came of age last season, leading the way to a fourth-place finish at state. Blake Pieroni was first among equals with a state title in the 100 free and second in the 200 free. But the Whitaker twins – Aaron (thirds in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke) and Ethan (eighth in 500 free, 13th in 200 free) weren’t far behind and neither was Jack Wallar (tied for fifth in the breaststroke).
It also was a great finish for Highland, which took 10th at state behind 50 free champ Adam Johnston. Ditto for divers Joshua Arndt of LaPorte and Muyenda Burnett of Valparaiso, who finished 1-2 at state as juniors.
P-T Top 5
1. Chesterton: A win over state-ranked Northridge over Thanksgiving break – “the best opening meet we’ve ever had,” according to coach Kevin Kinel – showed what this team is capable of and why it’s favored to win state for the third time since 2008. Defending 100-yard freestyle state champ Blake Pieroni leads a deep, talented junior class.
2. Munster: The perennial Northwest Crossroads champs may not have some of the big names of past Munster teams. But some talented youngsters should keep the Seahorses on track for a 28th straight sectional title and state-record 43rd overall.
3. Crown Point: The Bulldogs will be chasing Chesterton in the Duneland Athletic Conference and Munster in the sectional. They have a nice blend of state-meet experience (Johnny Lynk, Joel Gintzler, Nick Huls and Andrew Kvachkoff) and promising newcomers.
4. Valparaiso: The Vikings graduated Dion Low, a state placer in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, but the cupboard’s hardly bare. State diving runner-up Muyenda Burnett and distance standout Andrew Antonietti lead the returnees.
5. Highland: It’ll be hard for the Trojans to top last year, when they finished 10th at state and sprinter Adam Johnston became the program’s first state champ since 1998. Johnston’s gone, but look for Highland to remain strong thanks to Stephen Castillo and Chris Dabrowski.
1. Lake Central: Yet another team that should be competitive in the DAC and the sectional, the Indians return half of their six state qualifiers (Brandon Egebrecht, Luke Paprocki, Josh Barajas) and will look for help from a strong sophomore class.
2. Michigan City: Senior Matt Quinlan, a returning state placer in the breaststroke, will score plenty of points for the Wolves. Also keep an eye on a promising freshman group that displayed its potential for the Piranhas age-group program.
3. Portage: The rebuilding process continues at Portage. Breaking into the upper half of the DAC seems a reasonable goal for a team that did not lose many athletes to graduation (though state-qualifying diver Alex Rosales left via transfer).
4. Kankakee Valley: Veteran Kougars coach Dan Roberts returns Frank Lapota (IM, breaststroke), Trevor Shelhart (diving) and Cameron Johnson (sprints) and looks to compete for third in the NWCC behind Munster and Highland.
5. Bishop Noll: With Wheeler’s numbers down, Bishop Noll again figures to be the class of the Greater South Shore Conference – even though the Warriors still don’t have a pool. Seniors Anthony Repay, Brayden Banske and Robby Lorenz should contribute.
1. Blake Pieroni: After making his first Olympic cut over the summer in the 200 free, the junior turns his attention to defending his 100 free state title. He’ll also swim in another individual event to be determined (and likely be a state contender), along with a couple of relays.
2. Joshua Arndt and Muyenda Burnett: The two best divers in the state last season are back and they’re from neighboring counties. Expect more battles this season from Arndt, the LaPorte senior, Indiana recruit and defending champ; and Burnett, a Valparaiso senior who was second last season.
3. Aaron and Ethan Whitaker: Some might find following an older brother who won more state medals than any Indiana high school swimmer (Kyle Whitaker, now at Michigan) an impossible task, but these junior twins are doing just fine. Aaron took a pair of individual thirds at state last year, while Ethan had a ninth and a 13th.
4. Johnny Lynk: The senior is one of two returning members of the Bulldogs’ state-placing 200 medley relay (junior Andrew Kvachkoff is the other). He’ll be relied upon to help keep Crown Point among the region’s elite and be a leader on a roster that features some talented newcomers.
5. Stephen Castillo: Part of a dynamic 1-2 sprinting duo last year with Adam Johnston, Castillo now will be the main man for the Trojans in the 50 and 100 free. The senior will be looking to place at state in both events this season.
FIVE NEWER FACES
1. Alex Rosales: A state qualifier in diving for Portage last year as a junior, Rosales has transfered to Griffith. He’ll be a huge boost to a program that’s in rebuilding mode.
2. Wilson Beckman and Joey Gardner: These sophomores figure to lead the way for Munster for this year and beyond. Beckman swam in four events at state as a freshman and should be a force in the 100 backstroke in particular. Gardner’s focus will be the breaststroke.
3. Patrick Curley, Jack Kurfman and Andy Hurst: These three members of Chesterton’s exceptionally talented junior class should get more of a chance to shine this season. Curley, who swam on a state-placing relay last year, has been especially impressive already.
4. Chris Dabrowski: The spotlight was on the sprints at Highland last season, but Dabrowski made quite a splash by qualifying for state in the 500 free as a freshman. He also swam a leg on the state-placing 400 free relay.
5. Cole Homans: Part of a talented sophomore class along with Josh Barajas (200 IM, 500 free), Homans (100 backstroke, 100 free) will expected to be a big contributor for Lake Central this season and into the future.
— correspondent Mike Clark